Monday, October 31, 2005

Did Alito dodge draft...sort of like the guy who appointed him?

Alito: Where were you in '72?

A lot has been said this morning about Samuel Alito, President Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court, and his impeccable legal resume. Well, here's one portion of his resume we hope gets some very, very close scrutiny over the next few weeks, before his confirmation hearings.

Where were you in '72?

Specifically, what were the circumstances of Alito getting a coveted slot in the Army Reserves that year, while the Vietnam War was still raging? Is Alito yet another "chickenhawk" who avoided the war and now will be deciding on life-or-death cases involving our young men and women fighting in Iraq and elsewhere today?

We don't know the answer -- it's only been about four hours since Bush nominated Altio to replace Sandra Day O'Connor -- but it's a question that needs to be asked, especially in light over the controversies over how Bush and Dick Cheney avoided Vietnam.

Alito was born on April Fool's Day -- April 1, 1950. He entered Princeton University as an undergrad in 1968, the year of the Tet Offensive, at a time when there was still a college deferment for the draft. That meant that full-time students working toward a degree were not in jeopardy of being sent to Vietnam.

However, in 1971 Congress voted to essentially end the college deferment, and by then the U.S. Selective Service had switched to a draft lottery -- the higher your number, based upon your birthday, the more likely that you would be drafted.

In February 1972, the service held its draft lottery for 1973 inductions -- and Alito, in essence, lost. His birthday, April 1, came up as No. 12 that year, a certain ticket to induction, or so it seemed.

In fact, the draft class of 1973 would never be called. The U.S. involvement in Vietnam was substantially winding down in 1972, to just 49,000 troops from a high in the 1960s of more than half a million. But as Richard Nixon's Christmas bombings that year showed, no one had a crystal ball to predict the final American withdrawal at the start of 1973.

By then, young Sam Alito -- who was graduating Princeton on his way to Yale Law School -- was already in the Army Reserves, which, as this article notes, "became a haven for those avoiding service in Vietnam." The future judge served in the reserves until 1980 and left with the rank of captain.

How did he get that coveted slot? The judge's father, Sam Alito Sr., was the director of New Jersey's Office of Legislative Services in 1972, so he surely knew some powerful politicians. Did someone make a phone call? We're curious.

The Vietnam War was an immoral enterprise, just like the current military misadventure, and many people -- including some who became outstanding public servants -- took measures to avoid fighting it. Still, it's troubling that so many of our current leadership is comprised of "chickenhawks," eager to throw military weight around now that their own generation's turn is over.

That list includes Bush, whose convoluted history with the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam period has hovered over his presidency, and Cheney, who had "other priorities" during Vietnam. And in the next few years, we expect the Supreme Court will render key rulings on cases involving their military actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gitmo or elsewhere.

That's why we need to find out if Alito is a bird of the same feather.

NOTE: Since publishing this, several readers who were exposed to the draft lottery and know more than we do said that Alito's exposure to the draft lottery came in 1969, not 1972. That said, the number in that lottery for April 1 was an also very high No. 35, also very much in the inductee zone. So that doesn't make us any less interested in the story of how he found his way into the Reserves.

UPDATE: From the AP:
Alito joined the Army ROTC at Princeton. In 1972, one year before the military draft ended but while the Vietnam War was still raging, he was one of nine in his class to receive a commission in the Army Reserve. He was discharged in 1980 as a captain.


LINK

REPOST: Bush Planned Iraq 'Regime Change' Before Becoming President

15 September 2002: A SECRET blueprint for US global domination reveals that President Bush and his cabinet were planning a premeditated attack on Iraq to secure 'regime change' even before he took power in January 2001.

The blueprint, uncovered by the Sunday Herald, for the creation of a 'global Pax Americana' was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice- president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy), George W Bush's younger brother Jeb and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). The document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defences: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century, was written in September 2000 by the neo-conservative think-tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

The plan shows Bush's cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power. It says: 'The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.'

The PNAC document supports a 'blueprint for maintaining global US pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests'.

This 'American grand strategy' must be advanced for 'as far into the future as possible', the report says. It also calls for the US to 'fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars' as a 'core mission'.

The report describes American armed forces abroad as 'the cavalry on the new American frontier'. The PNAC blueprint supports an earlier document written by Wolfowitz and Libby that said the US must 'discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role'.

The PNAC report also:

* refers to key allies such as the UK as 'the most effective and efficient means of exercising American global leadership';

* describes peace-keeping missions as 'demanding American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations';

*reveals worries in the administration that Europe could rival the USA;

* says 'even should Saddam pass from the scene' bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will remain permanently -- despite domestic opposition in the Gulf regimes to the stationing of US troops -- as 'Iran may well prove as large a threat to US interests as Iraq has';

* spotlights China for 'regime change' saying 'it is time to increase the presence of American forces in southeast Asia'. This, it says, may lead to 'American and allied power providing the spur to the process of democratisation in China';

* calls for the creation of 'US Space Forces', to dominate space, and the total control of cyberspace to prevent 'enemies' using the internet against the US;

* hints that, despite threatening war against Iraq for developing weapons of mass destruction, the US may consider developing biological weapons -- which the nation has banned -- in decades to come. It says: 'New methods of attack -- electronic, 'non-lethal', biological -- will be more widely available .. combat likely will take place in new dimensions, in space, cyberspace, and perhaps the world of microbes ... advanced forms of biological warfare that can 'target' specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool';

* and pinpoints North Korea, Libya, Syria and Iran as dangerous regimes and says their existence justifies the creation of a 'world-wide command-and-control system'.

Tam Dalyell, the Labour MP, father of the House of Commons and one of the leading rebel voices against war with Iraq, said: 'This is garbage from right-wing think-tanks stuffed with chicken-hawks -- men who have never seen the horror of war but are in love with the idea of war. Men like Cheney, who were draft-dodgers in the Vietnam war.

'This is a blueprint for US world domination -- a new world order of their making. These are the thought processes of fantasist Americans who want to control the world. I am appalled that a British Labour Prime Minister should have got into bed with a crew which has this moral standing.'

©2002 smg sunday newspapers ltd

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article1221.htm

We Have Been Warned

By U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-TX)

Watch Ron Paul's speech on video.

Before the US House of Representatives, October 26, 2005

We have been warned. Prepare for a broader war in the Middle East, as plans are being laid for the next U.S.-led regime change – in Syria. A UN report on the death of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafig Hariri elicited this comment from a senior U.S. policy maker: “Out of tragedy comes an extraordinary strategic opportunity.” This statement reflects the continued neo-conservative, Machiavellian influence on our foreign policy. The “opportunity” refers to the long-held neo-conservative plan for regime change in Syria, similar to what was carried out in Iraq.

This plan for remaking the Middle East has been around for a long time. Just as 9/11 served the interests of those who longed for changes in Iraq, the sensationalism surrounding Hariri’s death is being used to advance plans to remove Assad.

Congress already has assisted these plans by authorizing the sanctions placed on Syria last year. Harmful sanctions, as applied to Iraq in the 1990s, inevitably represent a major step toward war since they bring havoc to so many innocent people. Syria already has been charged with developing weapons of mass destruction based on no more evidence than was available when Iraq was similarly charged.

Syria has been condemned for not securing its borders, by the same U.S. leaders who cannot secure our own borders. Syria was castigated for placing its troops in Lebanon, a neighboring country, although such action was invited by an elected government and encouraged by the United States. The Syrian occupation of Lebanon elicited no suicide terrorist attacks, as was suffered by Western occupiers.

Condemning Syria for having troops in Lebanon seems strange, considering most of the world sees our 150,000 troops in Iraq as an unwarranted foreign occupation. Syrian troops were far more welcome in Lebanon.

Secretary Rice likewise sees the problems in Syria – that we helped to create – as an opportunity to advance our Middle Eastern agenda. In recent testimony she stated that it was always the administration’s intent to redesign the greater Middle East, and Iraq was only one part of that plan. And once again we have been told that all options are still on the table for dealing with Syria – including war.

The statement that should scare all Americans (and the world) is the assurance by Secretary Rice that the President needs no additional authority from Congress to attack Syria. She argues that authority already has been granted by the resolutions on 9/11 and Iraq. This is not true, but if Congress remains passive to the powers assumed by the executive branch it won’t matter. As the war spreads, the only role for Congress will be to provide funding lest they be criticized for not supporting the troops. In the meantime, the Constitution and our liberties here at home will be further eroded as more Americans die.

This escalation of conflict with Syria comes as a result of the UN report concerning the Hariri death. When we need an excuse for our actions, it’s always nice to rely on the organization that our administration routinely condemns, one that brought us the multi-billion dollar oil-for-food scandal and sexual crimes by UN representatives.

It’s easy to ignore the fact that the report did not implicate Assad, who is targeted for the next regime change. The UN once limited itself to disputes between nations; yet now it’s assumed the UN, like the United States, has a legal and moral right to inject itself into the internal policies of sovereign nations. Yet what is the source of this presumed wisdom? Where is the moral imperative that allows us to become the judge and jury of a domestic murder in a country 6,000 miles from our shores?

Moral, constitutional, and legal arguments for a less aggressive foreign policy receive little attention in Washington. But the law of unintended consequences serves as a thorough teacher for the slow learners and the morally impaired.

  • Is Iraq not yet enough of a headache for the braggarts of the shock and awe policy?
  • Are 2,000 lives lost not enough to get their attention?
  • How many hundreds of billions of dollars must be drained from our economy before it’s noticed?
  • Is it still plausible that deficits don’t matter?
  • Is the apparent victory for Iran in the Shiite theocracy we’ve created in Iraq not yet seen as a disturbing consequence of the ill-fated Iraq regime change effort?
  • When we have our way with the next election in Lebanon and Hezbollah wins, what do we do?
  • If our effort to destabilize Syria is no more successful than our efforts in Iraq, then what?
  • If destabilizing Syria leads to the same in Iran, what are our options?

If we can’t leave now, we’ll surely not leave then – we’ll be told we must stay to honor the fallen to prove the cause was just.

We should remember Ronald Reagan’s admonition regarding this area of the world. Ronald Reagan reflected on Lebanon in his memoirs, describing the Middle East as a jungle and Middle East politics as irrational. It forced him to rethink his policy in the region. It’s time we do some rethinking as well.

October 28, 2005

Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

Vietnam Study, Casting Doubts, Remains Secret

by Scott Shane
 
WASHINGTON - The National Security Agency (N.S.A.) has kept secret since 2001 a finding by an agency historian that during the Tonkin Gulf episode, which helped precipitate the Vietnam War, N.S.A. officers deliberately distorted critical intelligence to cover up their mistakes, two people familiar with the historian's work say.

The historian's conclusion is the first serious accusation that communications intercepted by the N.S.A., the secretive eavesdropping and code-breaking agency, were falsified so that they made it look as if North Vietnam had attacked American destroyers on Aug. 4, 1964, two days after a previous clash. President Lyndon B. Johnson cited the supposed attack to persuade Congress to authorize broad military action in Vietnam, but most historians have concluded in recent years that there was no second attack.


Rather than come clean about their mistake, [midlevel National Security Agency officers] helped launch the United States into a bloody war that would last for 10 years.

Matthew Aid, independent historian
The N.S.A. historian, Robert J. Hanyok, found a pattern of translation mistakes that went uncorrected, altered intercept times and selective citation of intelligence that persuaded him that midlevel agency officers had deliberately skewed the evidence.

Mr. Hanyok concluded that they had done it not out of any political motive but to cover up earlier errors, and that top N.S.A. and defense officials and Johnson neither knew about nor condoned the deception.

Mr. Hanyok's findings were published nearly five years ago in a classified in-house journal, and starting in 2002 he and other government historians argued that it should be made public. But their effort was rebuffed by higher-level agency policymakers, who by the next year were fearful that it might prompt uncomfortable comparisons with the flawed intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq, according to an intelligence official familiar with some internal discussions of the matter.

Matthew M. Aid, an independent historian who has discussed Mr. Hanyok's Tonkin Gulf research with current and former N.S.A. and C.I.A. officials who have read it, said he had decided to speak publicly about the findings because he believed they should have been released long ago.

"This material is relevant to debates we as Americans are having about the war in Iraq and intelligence reform," said Mr. Aid, who is writing a history of the N.S.A. "To keep it classified simply because it might embarrass the agency is wrong."

Mr. Aid's description of Mr. Hanyok's findings was confirmed by the intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the research has not been made public.

Both men said Mr. Hanyok believed the initial misinterpretation of North Vietnamese intercepts was probably an honest mistake. But after months of detective work in N.S.A.'s archives, he concluded that midlevel agency officials discovered the error almost immediately but covered it up and doctored documents so that they appeared to provide evidence of an attack.

"Rather than come clean about their mistake, they helped launch the United States into a bloody war that would last for 10 years," Mr. Aid said.

Asked about Mr. Hanyok's research, an N.S.A. spokesman said the agency intended to release his 2001 article in late November. The spokesman, Don Weber, said the release had been "delayed in an effort to be consistent with our preferred practice of providing the public a more contextual perspective."

Mr. Weber said the agency was working to declassify not only Mr. Hanyok's article, but also the original intercepts and other raw material for his work, so the public could better assess his conclusions.

The intelligence official gave a different account. He said N.S.A. historians began pushing for public release in 2002, after Mr. Hanyok included his Tonkin Gulf findings in a 400-page, in-house history of the agency and Vietnam called "Spartans in Darkness." Though superiors initially expressed support for releasing it, the idea lost momentum as Iraq intelligence was being called into question, the official said.

Mr. Aid said he had heard from other intelligence officials the same explanation for the delay in releasing the report, though neither he nor the intelligence official knew how high up in the agency the issue was discussed. A spokesman for Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who was the agency's. director until last summer and is now the principal deputy director of national intelligence, referred questions to Mr. Weber, the N.S.A. spokesman, who said he had no further information.

Many historians believe that even without the Tonkin Gulf episode, Johnson might have found a reason to escalate military action against North Vietnam. They note that Johnson apparently had his own doubts about the Aug. 4 attack and that a few days later told George W. Ball, the under secretary of state, "Hell, those dumb, stupid sailors were just shooting at flying fish!"

But Robert S. McNamara, who as defense secretary played a central role in the Tonkin Gulf affair, said in an interview last week that he believed the intelligence reports had played a decisive role in the war's expansion.

"I think it's wrong to believe that Johnson wanted war," Mr. McNamara said. "But we thought we had evidence that North Vietnam was escalating."

Mr. McNamara, 89, said he had never been told that the intelligence might have been altered to shore up the scant evidence of a North Vietnamese attack.

"That really is surprising to me," said Mr. McNamara, who Mr. Hanyok found had unknowingly used the altered intercepts in 1964 and 1968 in testimony before Congress. "I think they ought to make all the material public, period."

The supposed second North Vietnamese attack, on the American destroyers Maddox and C. Turner Joy, played an outsize role in history. Johnson responded by ordering retaliatory air strikes on North Vietnamese targets and used the event to persuade Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin resolution on Aug. 7, 1964.

It authorized the president "to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force," to defend South Vietnam and its neighbors and was used both by Johnson and President Richard M. Nixon to justify escalating the war, in which 58,226 Americans and more than 1 million Vietnamese died.

Not all the details of Mr. Hanyok's analysis, published in N.S.A.'s Cryptologic Quarterly in early 2001, could be learned. But they involved discrepancies between the official N.S.A. version of the events of Aug. 4, 1964, and intercepts from N.S.A. listening posts at Phu Bai in South Vietnam and San Miguel in the Philippines that are in the agency archives.

One issue, for example, was the translation of a phrase in an Aug. 4 North Vietnamese transmission. In some documents the phrase, "we sacrificed two comrades" - an apparent reference to casualties during the clash with American ships on Aug. 2 - was incorrectly translated as "we sacrificed two ships." That phrase was used to suggest that the North Vietnamese were reporting the loss of ships in a new battle Aug. 4, the intelligence official said.

The original Vietnamese version of that intercept, unlike many other intercepts from the same period, is missing from the agency's archives, the official said.

The intelligence official said the evidence for deliberate falsification is "about as certain as it can be without a smoking gun - you can come to no other conclusion."

Despite its well-deserved reputation for secrecy, the N.S.A. in recent years has made public dozens of studies by its Center for Cryptologic History. A study by Mr. Hanyok on signals intelligence and the Holocaust, titled "Eavesdropping on Hell," was published last year.

Two historians who have written extensively on the Tonkin Gulf episode, Edwin E. Moise of Clemson University and John Prados of the National Security Archive in Washington, said they were unaware of Mr. Hanyok's work but found his reported findings intriguing.

"I'm surprised at the notion of deliberate deception at N.S.A.," Dr. Moise said. "But I get surprised a lot."

Dr. Prados said, "If Mr. Hanyok's conclusion is correct, it adds to the tragic aspect of the Vietnam War." In addition, he said, "it's new evidence that intelligence, so often treated as the Holy Grail, turns out to be not that at all, just as in Iraq."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Russert Watch: The Comeback

Published on Monday, October 31, 2005 by the Huffington Post
 
by Arianna Huffington
 

Thank God this whole Libby thing is finally over, and Bush can "focus on some big issues," "overcome the energy prices," become a "foreign policy big-stroke leader," "restore trust," "re-establish that presidential leadership that the whole country looks for," and "bring some people who are going to bring some new ideas."

The Bush White House is on its way to a clean start. How do I know this? Easy. I watched Meet the Press while my partner, Kenny Lerer, watched "Pet Keeping." I learned nothing, as Steve Lovelady explains in CJR Daily, about Russert's role in Libby's pending trial. But I learned a lot about how President Bush can put this whole little affair behind him and "repair his second term."

The suggestions from the first segment's guests -- three former White House Chiefs of Staff, Ken Duberstein, Hamilton Jordan and Leon Panetta, and historian Michael Beschloss -- on how Bush should change course barely even matter, since the defining characteristic of his presidency is his inability to change course. (Unless he runs out of road, as he did on social security and Harriet Miers.)

But the Scooter Libby case has just begun (for the latest potential indictment in Cheney's office read Murray Waas and Paul Singer at the National Journal), and it is intricately linked to a war which continues to go from bad to worse. Yet such is the bubble that many Washington journalists and political operatives live in that today's show was like watching a bunch of people play "fantasy baseball." I'm sure it's fun, but it doesn't change the real game.

For a look at what the non-fantasy world is like, I kept clicking on HuffPo's homepage, where I could read Lawrence O'Donnell ("As long as Karl Rove stays in the White House... the Bush presidency will remain a powerless gang that couldn’t shoot straight."), Nicholas Kristof ("If Mr. Cheney can't address the questions about his conduct... then he should resign. And if he won't resign, Mr. Bush should demand his resignation."), Jonathan Alter ("Fitzgerald was wrong on one count, at least metaphorically. 'This indictment is not about the war,' he said. Oh, yes, it is."), David Remnick ("In his anger, and after all his many failures, the President, quite suddenly, seems unpopular, alone, and adrift."), and Frank Rich ("Watergate's dirty tricks were mainly prompted by the ruthless desire to crush the political competition at any cost... but this administration has upped the ante by playing dirty tricks with war.")

Ultimately, as Rich writes, the Libby indictment is just "one very big window" into what we've just begun to put together: "the full history of a self-described 'war presidency' that bungled the war in Iraq and, in doing so, may be losing the war against radical Islamic terrorism as well."

This is what this case is about, no matter how much White House apologists want it to be about a White House aide being busted for a "technicality." And they will no more be able to spin this away than they've been able to spin away the consequences of a disastrous war.

Fantasyland continued in the second segment, a roundtable featuring Judy Woodruff, David Brooks, David Broder and William Safire. (Tim really sets a well-balanced table, doesn't he?) Safire spent most of the segment looking down -- at what, I have no idea. Though if I were repeating such absurd talking points as his, I would not want to look anyone in the eye either.

And what's up with David Brooks? Has he switched to writing fiction for the New York Times? (He's hardly alone -- the New Yorker had better watch its back.)

"But listen, nobody's going to remember most of the details of this six months from now. ... What Fitzgerald showed, you know, he was in there for 22 months. He had full cooperation from everybody."

Full cooperation? FULL COOPERATION? Fitzgerald's main witnesses litigated their refusal to cooperate all the way to the Supreme Court. And false statements, perjury and obstruction of justice hardly indicate "full cooperation." Indeed, as Fitzgerald put it, it was like the umpire getting "sand thrown in his eyes."

Tim, of course, could not be bothered to challenge any of this. In the same way that he left unchallenged the untruths coming out of the mouth of Bill Safire, who was still identified as a New York Times columnist. I guess this refers to his language column in the Times magazine, unless being a NYT columnist is like being an ambassador, and you get to keep the title for life -- which would be particularly apt for Safire, since being an ambassador from the administration, and from Millerland, is exactly what he was doing today. "What the special counsel found," he said, "is that law was not broken."

As Safire surely knows, Fitzgerald found that perjury and obstruction-of-justice laws were broken, and was prevented from finding out if the Intelligence Identities Protection law was broken because of the small matter of sand being thrown in his eyes.

And for anyone wondering why someone "as smart and as organized as Scooter Libby" (Broder's words) would perjure himself, the answer is that maybe, just maybe, he was covering up a crime.

Unchallenged and emboldened, Safire went on: "The wonderful thing about American attention and media coverage, is the narrative has to change. ... And so the story will be the comeback." Safire's proposed new narrative, along with the comeback, is that the economy is "booming."

Here are some quick facts that Russert could have brought up to dispel the Safiric, let-them-eat-cake notion of a booming economy:

"Consumer confidence dropped, home sales were down and the number of people who lost their jobs because of Hurricane Katrina climbed above the half-million mark....Pension funds are going bankrupt, health care costs and gasoline prices are soaring and jobs are being shipped overseas."

So in what universe is the economy's performance as stellar as Safire would like us to believe? In the same universe, it turns out, in which Judy Miller is "a tough-minded, hard-driving investigative reporter who did wonderful work" and whose critics don't like her because she's "a tough-minded, hard-driving investigative reporter who did wonderful work."

Yes, that's right, Bill. The reason why Miller will not return to the New York Times, the reason why five of the six WMD stories the Times had to apologize for had her name on them, the reason why editor after editor is now running away from her is her wonderful, tough-minded, hard-driving reporting.

Toward the end of the show, summing up its "comeback" tone, was this question from Russert: "If the president does try to recover, does try to reach out, will the Democrats join with him or will they resist him?"

So there you have it. If those damn Democrats stop resisting the president, he will quickly get out of rehab and we can all look forward to a big-idea, booming, bipartisan second term. Except, that is, for the war and all those pesky people who don't like being lied to about the war, and don't like senior administration officials perjuring themselves to cover up their lies about the war.

For everyone else -- you heard it on Meet the Press first -- things are going to be A-OK.

© 2005 The Huffington Post

Heads up; Addington to replace Libby; another member of team Leak and Smear?

WHITE HOUSE
Addington's Role In Cheney's Office Draws Fresh Attention

By Murray Waas and Paul Singer
© National Journal Group Inc.
Sunday, Oct. 30, 2005


David Addington, counsel to Vice President Cheney, has been named to succeed Scooter Libby as Cheney's chief of staff. Addington's own role in the Plame matter is emerging just as the vice president selects him for the top job.




On the morning of July 8, 2003, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, then-chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, had a two-hour meeting with New York Times reporter Judith Miller at which Libby gave information to Miller in an attempt to discredit former ambassador and Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson.

When Libby returned to the White House, he immediately sought out David Addington, the vice president's counsel, according to court records and interviews. During their breakfast at the St. Regis Hotel, Libby had promised Miller he would try to find out more about Wilson, and Wilson's wife, CIA officer Valerie Plame. As the former general counsel to the CIA and counsel to the House Intelligence Committee, Addington was the right man for Libby to see.

Libby's and Addington's fates have dramatically changed as a result of the events of that day. Libby, long Cheney's most trusted aide, resigned as the vice president's chief of staff on Friday following his felony indictment on five counts of making false statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice in the CIA leak case. A federal grand jury accused Libby of trying to cover up that he had disclosed the identity of Plame, a covert CIA operative, in an effort to discredit Wilson and his criticism of the administration.

Addington is currently considered the leading candidate to succeed Libby as the chief of staff to a weakened but still powerful Cheney. But Addington's own role in the Plame matter is emerging just as the vice president considers whether to name him as his next chief of staff.

There is no evidence that Addington has done anything outside the law, or that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has regarded him as anything other than a witness during the two-year probe that led to Libby's indictment. There is also no evidence that Addington was cognizant that Libby had allegedly leaked classified information on Plame to the media.

But Addington was deeply immersed in the White House damage-control campaign to deflect criticism that the Bush administration misrepresented intelligence information to make the case to go to war with Iraq, according to administration and congressional sources.

Moreover, as a pivotal member of the vice president's office, Addington also attended strategy sessions in 2003 on how to discredit Wilson when the former ambassador publicly charged that the Bush administration misled the country in pushing its case for war, according to attorneys in the CIA leak probe.

Further, Addington played a leading role in 2004 on behalf of the Bush administration when it refused to give the Senate Intelligence Committee documents from Libby's office on the alleged misuse of intelligence information regarding Iraq. Because Addington may be in line to succeed Libby, the Intelligence Committee-White House battle over the documents has sparked new interest on Capitol Hill.

On Friday Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, renewed his earlier requests that the White House turn over crucial documents to Congress. Rockefeller said that if Republicans on the committee do not take formal steps to obtain the papers, the Senate should launch an independent inquiry separate from the intelligence panel.

Libby reportedly recommended to Cheney that Addington succeed him as the vice president's chief of staff. Addington and Libby have been close personally, and Addington's professional association with Cheney goes back more than two decades. Addington was counsel to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the 1980s when Cheney was a member of that panel. And when President George H.W. Bush appointed Cheney as Secretary of Defense, Addington served as general counsel at Defense and as a special assistant to Cheney.

In addition to being longtime friends and colleagues, Cheney, Addington and Libby share a fundamental philosophy on the issue of executive power and have sought to implement it in asserting Cheney's power as vice president.

All three strongly believe that the presidency was severely weakened by Vietnam, Watergate, and other events, and that the Congress, the courts, and the media have encroached on and diminished executive branch powers and prerogatives. ( This is priceless: a war based on presidential lying, which finally ended 30 years ago, as Americans were chased from their Embassy in South Vietnam, over-reach by a paranoid president against American "enemies" which led to more revelations of abuse of power and all manner of horror; the Watergate Scandal, led to diminished executive power; so, hey, let's go and do it all again, except let's make it much worse, perhaps so horrible that the American people will not be able to handle the truth.)

Essential to reasserting presidential power, they have argued, is the necessity of setting strict limits on the release of executive branch information to Congress and the public, particularly in the area of foreign policy. Addington has been the administration's point man in this effort.

Ironically, the Bush administration has now been severely damaged by a scandal over the disclosure of classified information from the vice president's office itself. In charging Libby with five felonies, the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case has said that Libby was attempting to conceal his role in leaking a sensitive secret: the identity of a covert CIA operative.

***

When Libby and Miller met on July 8, 2003, Cheney's office was involved in an effort to discredit Wilson. The former ambassador had been sent on a CIA-sponsored mission to Niger in 2002 to investigate claims that Iraq was attempting to buy uranium material from the African nation in order to build a nuclear weapon. On July 6, Wilson wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times, and gave interviews to news organizations saying he found no evidence to back up the claim Iraq purchased the uranium, and he charged that the Bush administration was manipulating evidence in the matter.

At their breakfast meeting, Libby told Miller that Plame worked at the CIA, and also alleged that the CIA sent Wilson to Niger on Plame's recommendation, according to the grand jury indictment.

During the breakfast, according to attorneys familiar with Libby's previously undisclosed statements to federal investigators, Miller insisted that Libby provide her with additional information on Wilson and Plame to bolster any story she might write. Miller testified to the grand jury that it was Libby who offered to find additional evidence to verify what he had told the Times reporter, according to legal sources familiar with Miller's version of events.

Whatever the case, when Libby returned to the White House after meeting with Miller, he sought out Addington. Attempts to reach Addington for comment for this story were unsuccessful. He did not return messages left on his White House voice mail over the course of several days.

According to the grand jury indictment, Libby met with Addington "in an anteroom outside the Vice President's office." The indictment did not name Addington, but identified him as "Counsel to Vice President." The indictment says that Libby asked Addington, "in sum and substance, what paperwork there would be at the CIA if an employee's spouse undertook an overseas mission."

The indictment does not say what actions, if any, Addington took to learn more about Plame's CIA employment.

Four days after the Libby-Miller breakfast and Libby's discussion with Addington, Libby gave Miller additional information on Wilson and Plame, according to legal sources familiar with Miller's testimony.

Phone records reviewed by the grand jury in the CIA leak investigation appear to confirm that Libby and Miller had a three-minute conversation on July 12 while Miller was apparently in a taxicab returning home. When the reporter got home, she and Libby spoke for 37 minutes, according to the phone records.

Although Miller would not write a story about Plame and Wilson, on July 14, 2003, columnist Robert Novak disclosed in his syndicated column that Plame was an "agency operative" and had engaged in nepotism by suggesting her husband for the CIA's Niger mission.

If Libby stands trial, it appears all but certain that Addington will be a crucial witness against Libby, according to attorneys involved in the case. That is because the indictment charges that Libby told a "fictitious" account to the grand jury that he only learned of Plame's CIA employment from journalists, rather than from classified information.

The indictment charges that Libby committed perjury by testifying to the grand jury that he only first learned of Plame's CIA employment from NBC Washington bureau chief Tim Russert, and that Russert told him that the information about Plame had been common knowledge for some time. Russert, however, testified to the grand jury that he never told Libby about Plame.

Instead, the indictment charges, Libby learned about Plame and Plame's possible role in recommending her husband for the Niger mission from government officials: an undersecretary of state; a CIA officer who regularly briefed Libby on national security issues; an unidentified "senior CIA officer"; and Vice President Cheney himself.

Libby in turned shared that information with a number of officials in the vice president's office, according to the indictment: Addington; John Hannah, the deputy national security advisor; and Catherine Martin, then Cheney's press secretary.

It would not have been inappropriate for the various officials to have learned of Plame's identity as a CIA officer and discussed it among themselves, as long as they did not disclose the information outside of government circles, as Libby allegedly did, according to Fitzgerald's indictment.

The role of Addington differs from that of the other officials, however, in that it is the only known instance in which Libby tried to get a member of the vice president's office to find out additional information about Plame, according to the indictment.

Addington regularly attended detailed strategy sessions with Libby and other members of the vice president's staff to discuss how they might discredit Wilson and blunt his allegations that the White House misrepresented information on the Niger mission, according to government officials with detailed knowledge of those meetings. During those discussions, Addington and others discussed the possibility of selectively releasing classified information to Congress that would discredit Wilson, according to the same sources.

At the same time, Addington worked with Libby and Cheney in a broader effort to blunt congressional criticism that the administration selectively used intelligence information, and misrepresented other information, to make the case to go to war. In that instance, Addington played a key role in withholding information from Congress. It was his involvement in that effort that has drawn congressional ire in recent days.

An official who was involved in an interagency process to determine what information should be released to Congress said that a CIA representative, as well as one from at least one other agency, believed that Addington selectively released classified information to damage Wilson. This official also said it was believed that Addington was holding back other documents that would portray the administration in an unfavorable light.

National Journal reported last week that Vice President Cheney, Libby, and Addington, overruled advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers and decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence.

In reaction to the National Journal story, Rockefeller released a statement saying he wrote in October 2003 to CIA Director George Tenet requesting White House documents. "I repeated that request in writing on two subsequent occasions," Rockefeller said, but "the Committee never received the White House documents. The fact is that throughout the Iraq investigation any line of questioning that brought us too close to the White House was thwarted."

After the indictment of Libby on Friday, Rockefeller said the charges "also go to the heart of whether administration officials misused intelligence by disclosing an undercover CIA agent.... If my Republican colleagues are not prepared to undertake a full and serious congressional investigation into the potential misuse of intelligence, then I regretfully conclude that we have no choice but to pursue an outside independent investigation."

Rockefeller's call for an inquiry by the Intelligence Committee captured the attention of many senators Friday, but did not attract wider press attention. It also surprised senators because Rockefeller, who is a political moderate, was often praised by the Republican chairman of the committee, Pat Roberts of Kansas, and other Republicans for serving as vice chairman in a bipartisan matter. Indeed, some other Democratic senators on the committee have privately complained that Rockefeller had not pressed Republicans hard enough on some oversight issues.

In an interview, Rockefeller's spokesperson, Wendy Morigi, said that the senator had "sadly come to the conclusion that the Intelligence Committee is not capable of doing the job of investigating the fundamental question as to whether the administration has misused intelligence to go to war."

****

Addington shares with Cheney and Libby the view of increasing presidential power and authority and setting strict limits on the release of executive branch information to both Congress and the public.

As early as May 2001, Addington was the point person for the White House in deflecting requests by congressional Democrats and later the General Accounting Office (now named the Government Accountability Office) for information about the energy policy task force convened by Cheney's office.

During confirmation hearings of Alberto Gonzales to be attorney general, it was revealed that Addington helped draft the White House memo that concluded that the Geneva Convention against torture did not apply to prisoners captured in the war on terror. The memo declared that terrorism "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions." ( All wars are terrorism for the people who live where they are being waged, as well as for the soldiers required to fight them. That is why war should always be a very last resort and never should the executive conspire to deceive the people of America about the most serious commitment this nation can make; the decision to go to war. Attempting to deceive Congress is attempting to deceive the people. So is an orchestrated smear campaign launched through the news media, by the executive, with no one taking responsibility for their words, attacking a whistleblower, but instead, sneaking around through back channels to right-wing stenographers and mouth-pieces. The fact is that our armed forces have been terrorizing Iraqis with the kind of war only a superpower could wage. Americans should try to comprehend the horror of that for a day or two. Bush never had a plan for the reconstruction of Iraq. The Bush administration only had a plan for huge no bid contracts for which the hapless American tax-payers will be paying for generations, unless they refuse.

Last May, Amnesty International called for foreign governments to launch a broad investigation into U.S. torture policies and the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. The organization included Addington among a list of officials who should be questioned for their role in writing "various legal opinions that may have provided cover for subsequent crimes."

Bruce Fein, a deputy attorney general during the Reagan administration who is now in private practice, argues that the White House has pressed the issue of presidential powers and executive privilege farther than any previous administration, and far beyond what the democratic process warrants. (Surely it is clear by now that the Bushites could not care less about Democracy!)

Addington has been part of a team that has asserted "a broad omnipotence of the president," Fein said, including the ability of the president to declare anyone an "enemy combatant" and to hold them indefinitely without legal representation.

Now, Addington's role in Cheney's office could be a focus as Fitzgerald pursues the case against Libby. At a news conference on Friday the prosecutor stressed that the leaking of a CIA officer's identity was a serious breach of national security. "At a time when we need our spy agencies to have people work there, I think just the notion that someone's identity could be compromised lightly"... [discourages] our ability to recruit people and say, 'Come work for us... come be trained... come work anonymously here or wherever else, go do jobs for the benefit of the country for which people will not thank you," Fitzgerald said.

Rockefeller was more blunt. "Revealing the identity of a covert agent is the type of leak that gets people killed," Rockefeller said on Friday, "Not only does it end the person's career... it puts that person in grave personal danger as well as their colleagues and all the people they have had contact with."

-- Murray Waas is a Washington-based journalist. Paul Singer is a National Journal correspondent.

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Dance of the Demons

Published on Monday, October 31, 2005
 
by James Carroll
 

Tonite the children will be out, pretending to be demons. The whimsical traditions of trick or treat, masked mischief, and ritualized mayhem are a way of dealing with a dark mystery.

The delightful fright of the haunted house and its spooks initiates youngsters into the macabre realm of mortality. Costumes teach that deception is part of life. The threat at the door implicates even the innocent, who happily enact the abandonment of morality. The figure of the witch is emblematic because this holiday makes a joke of scape-goating murder. Play is never more serious than on Halloween because what the mockery confronts is nothing less than evil.

What is evil anyway? The myths of the devil, a snare-layer existing apart from humans, are well established, from Lucifer to Satan to Cruella. Their legends promote the notion that we descendants of Eve are at the mercy of a wicked enemy whose attacks are from outside. When we personalize that enemy and identify it, we can launch a counter-attack. The battle is what our children enact tonight. Smashing pumpkins is a version of witch-burning; if we like such violence it is because it leaves us feeling purified. Nothing sanctifies the self like condemnation of the other.

But there is another way to think of evil, finding it in the juncture between individual freedom and social context. The story of Genesis posits the malevolent serpent, but what ruined Paradise was not the serpent but the option made in its favor by Adam and Eve. What follows such choice is always unforeseen, but its dynamic is inevitable: Choice leads to consequence, which leads to new and graver choice, which leads in turn to yet graver consequence, and so on. A train of action-reaction is set in motion that quickly outpaces the ability of any one person to slow it.

This phenomenon can take the form of the ''grooved thinking" of a bureaucracy or of the ''institutional culture" that trumps even the good intentions of those who operate within it. Every human choice is made inside a rushing current of prior choices, and the pressure is not good.

Saint Paul spoke of the ''wiles of the devil," but his defining metaphor for evil was systemic, not personal. ''For we are not contending against flesh and blood," he wrote, ''but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness." For Paul, the enemy was not fallen angels, but ''sovereignties" which are hostile to humanity. He was talking about Roman tyrants and an uncaring imperial bureaucracy. He was talking about politics.

The clearest instance of this phenomenon today is unfolding in Iraq. ''Wars generate their own momentum," Robert McNamara once wrote, ''and follow the law of unintended consequences." George W. Bush must be held accountable for the consequences of his fateful decisions, from the 2,000 dead Americans to the American embrace of torture to the igniting of a clash of civilizations. But the ease with which the United States embarked on Bush's unnecessary and illegal war -- with huge popular, political, and pundit support -- was evidence of an already established momentum that predated Bush, and even his father.

Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton all kept the malevolent current flowing, if despite themselves. Bush simply stepped into it. An unprecedented American momentum toward war was unleashed in the 20th century, its destructive energy fueled by the heat of an unchecked nuclear arsenal. That momentum defines the nation now, and, for the first time in history, threatens the very earth. The principalities and powers are us. In the name of the fight against evil, good people established the ''sovereignty" of a militarized culture, laying bare the darkest mystery of all: What we construct to oppose evil involves us in it. Having armed evil with the nuclear bomb, we have made evil more sovereign than ever.

If only there were a devil to exorcise or a witch to burn. If only there were an axis of evil to oppose. Well, there is Saddam -- never mind that the crimes for which he is being tried drew winks from Washington. There is Iran with its blood curdling anti-Semitism -- never mind that its nuclear agenda is set by US policy. Like children reading costumes, we know the wicked from the good. We make our threats, seize our booty, and name the enemy, not thinking that we ourselves have become the world's. For America's children, this is play. For their nation, it is war. Trick or treat.

James Carroll's column appears regularly in the Globe. His most recent book is "Crusade: Chronicles of an Unjust War."

© Copyright 2005 Boston Globe

The White House Criminal Conspiracy

by ELIZABETH DE LA VEGA

[from the November 14, 2005 issue]

Legally, there are no significant differences between the investor fraud perpetrated by Enron CEO Ken Lay and the prewar intelligence fraud perpetrated by George W. Bush. Both involved persons in authority who used half-truths and recklessly false statements to manipulate people who trusted them. There is, however, a practical difference: The presidential fraud is wider in scope and far graver in its consequences than the Enron fraud. Yet thus far the public seems paralyzed.

In response to the outcry raised by Enron and other scandals, Congress passed the Corporate Corruption Bill, which President Bush signed on July 30, 2002, amid great fanfare. Bush declared that he was signing the bill because of his strong belief that corporate officers must be straightforward and honest. If they were not, he said, they would be held accountable.

Ironically, the day Bush signed the Corporate Corruption Bill, he and his aides were enmeshed in an orchestrated campaign to trick the country into taking the biggest risk imaginable--a war. Indeed, plans to attack Iraq were already in motion. In June Bush announced his "new" pre-emptive strike strategy. On July 23, 2002, the head of British intelligence advised Prime Minister Tony Blair, in the then-secret Downing Street Memo, that "military action was now seen as inevitable" and that "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Bush had also authorized the transfer of $700 million from Afghanistan war funds to prepare for an invasion of Iraq. Yet all the while, with the sincerity of Marc Antony protesting that "Brutus is an honorable man," Bush insisted he wanted peace.

Americans may have been unaware of this deceit then, but they have since learned the truth. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted in June, 52 percent of Americans now believe the President deliberately distorted intelligence to make a case for war. In an Ipsos Public Affairs poll, commissioned by AfterDowningStreet.org and completed October 9, 50 percent said that if Bush lied about his reasons for going to war Congress should consider impeaching him. The President's deceit is not only an abuse of power; it is a federal crime. Specifically, it is a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, which prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States.

So what do citizens do? First, they must insist that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence complete Phase II of its investigation, which was to be an analysis of whether the Administration manipulated or misrepresented prewar intelligence. The focus of Phase II was to determine whether the Administration misrepresented the information it received about Iraq from intelligence agencies. Second, we need to convince Congress to demand that the Justice Department appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Administration's deceptions about the war, using the same mechanism that led to the appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the outing of Valerie Plame. (As it happens, Congressman Jerrold Nadler and others have recently written to Acting Deputy Attorney General Robert McCallum Jr. pointing out that the Plame leak is just the "tip of the iceberg" and asking that Fitzgerald's authority be expanded to include an investigation into whether the White House conspired to mislead the country into war. )

Third, we can no longer shrink from the prospect of impeachment. Impeachment would require, as John Bonifaz, constitutional attorney, author of Warrior-King: The Case for Impeaching George Bush and co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org, has explained, that the House pass a "resolution of inquiry or impeachment calling on the Judiciary Committee to launch an investigation into whether grounds exist for the House to exercise its constitutional power to impeach George W. Bush." If the committee found such grounds, it would draft articles of impeachment and submit them to the full House for a vote. If those articles passed, the President would be tried by the Senate. Resolutions of inquiry, such as already have been introduced by Representatives Barbara Lee and Dennis Kucinich demanding that the Administration produce key information about its decision-making, could also lead to impeachment.

These three actions can be called for simultaneously. Obviously we face a GOP-dominated House and Senate, but the same outrage that led the public to demand action against corporate law-breakers should be harnessed behind an outcry against government law-breakers. As we now know, it was not a failure of intelligence that led us to war. It was a deliberate distortion of intelligence by the Bush Administration. But it is a failure of courage, on the part of Congress (with notable exceptions) and the mainstream media, that seems to have left us helpless to address this crime. Speaking as a former federal prosecutor, I offer the following legal analysis to encourage people to press their representatives to act.

The Nature of the Conspiracy

The Supreme Court has defined the phrase "conspiracy to defraud the United States" as "to interfere with, impede or obstruct a lawful government function by deceit, craft or trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest." In criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement "between two or more persons" to follow a course of conduct that, if completed, would constitute a crime. The agreement doesn't have to be express; most conspiracies are proved through evidence of concerted action. But government officials are expected to act in concert. So proof that they were conspiring requires a comparison of their public conduct and statements with their conduct and statements behind the scenes. A pattern of double-dealing proves a criminal conspiracy.

The concept of interfering with a lawful government function is best explained by reference to two well-known cases where courts found that executive branch officials had defrauded the United States by abusing their power for personal or political reasons.

One is the Watergate case, where a federal district court held that Nixon's Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman, and his crew had interfered with the lawful government functions of the CIA and the FBI by causing the CIA to intervene in the FBI's investigation into the burglary of Democratic Party headquarters. The other is U.S. v. North, where the court found that Reagan Administration National Security Adviser John Poindexter, Poindexter's aide Oliver North and others had interfered with Congress's lawful power to oversee foreign affairs by lying about secret arms deals during Congressional hearings into the Iran/contra scandal.

Finally, "fraud" is broadly defined to include half-truths, omissions or misrepresentation; in other words, statements that are intentionally misleading, even if literally true. Fraud also includes making statements with "reckless indifference" to their truth.

Conspiracies to defraud usually begin with a goal that is not in and of itself illegal. In this instance the goal was to invade Iraq. It is possible that the Bush team thought this goal was laudable and likely to succeed. It's also possible that they never formally agreed to defraud the public in order to attain it. But when they chose to overcome anticipated or actual opposition to their plan by concealing information and lying, they began a conspiracy to defraud--because, as juries are instructed, "no amount of belief in the ultimate success of a scheme will justify baseless, false or reckless misstatements."

From the fall of 2001 to at least March 2003, the following officials, and others, made hundreds of false assertions in speeches, on television, at the United Nations, to foreign leaders and to Congress: President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his Under Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz. Their statements were remarkably consistent and consistently false.

Even worse, these falsehoods were made against an overarching deception: that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks. If Administration officials never quite said there was a link, they conveyed the message brilliantly by mentioning 9/11 and Iraq together incessantly--just as beer commercials depict guys drinking beer with gorgeous women to imply a link between beer drinking and attractive women that is equally nonexistent. Beer commercials might be innocuous, but a deceptive ad campaign from the Oval Office is not, especially one designed to sell a war in which 2,000 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis have died, and that has cost this country more than $200 billion so far and stirred up worldwide enmity.

The fifteen-month PR blitz conducted by the White House was a massive fraud designed to trick the public into accepting a goal that Bush's advisers had held even before the election. A strategy document Dick Cheney commissioned from the Project for a New American Century, written in September 2000, for example, asserts that "the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." But, as the document reflects, the Administration hawks knew the public would not agree to an attack against Iraq unless there were a "catastrophic and catalyzing event--like a new Pearl Harbor."

Not surprisingly, the Bush/Cheney campaign did not trumpet this strategy. Instead, like corporate officials keeping two sets of books, they presented a nearly opposite public stance, decrying nation-building and acting as if "we were an imperialist power," in Cheney's words. Perhaps the public accepts deceitful campaign oratory, but nevertheless such duplicity is the stuff of fraud. And Bush and Cheney carried on with it seamlessly after the election.

By now it's no secret that the Bush Administration used the 9/11 attacks as a pretext to promote its war. They began talking privately about invading Iraq immediately after 9/11 but did not argue their case honestly to the American people. Instead, they began looking for evidence to make a case the public would accept--that Iraq posed an imminent threat. Unfortunately for them, there wasn't much.

In fact, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) in effect as of December 2001 said that Iraq did not have nuclear weapons; was not trying to get them; and did not appear to have reconstituted its nuclear weapons program since the UN and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors departed in December 1998. This assessment had been unchanged for three years.

As has been widely reported, the NIE is a classified assessment prepared under the CIA's direction, but only after input from the entire intelligence community, or IC. If there is disagreement, the dissenting views are also included. The December 2001 NIE contained no dissents about Iraq. In other words, the assessment privately available to Bush Administration officials from the time they began their tattoo for war until October 2002, when a new NIE was produced, was unanimous: Iraq did not have nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons programs. But publicly, the Bush team presented a starkly different picture.

In his January 2002 State of the Union address, for example, Bush declared that Iraq presented a "grave and growing danger," a direct contradiction of the prevailing NIE. Cheney continued the warnings in the ensuing months, claiming that Iraq was allied with Al Qaeda, possessed biological and chemical weapons and would soon have nuclear weapons. These false alarms were accompanied by the message that in the "post-9/11 world," normal rules of governmental procedure should not apply.

Unbeknownst to the public, after 9/11 Wolfowitz and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith had created a secret Pentagon unit called the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group (CTEG), which ignored the NIE and "re-evaluated" previously gathered raw intelligence on Iraq. It also ignored established analytical procedure. No responsible person, for example, would decide an important issue based on third-hand information from an uncorroborated source of unknown reliability. Imagine your doctor saying, "Well, I haven't exactly looked at your charts or X-rays, but my friend Martin over at General Hospital told me a new guy named Radar thinks you need triple bypass surgery. So--when are you available?"

Yet that was the quality of information Bush Administration officials used for their arguments. As if picking peanuts out of a Cracker Jacks box, they plucked favorable tidbits from reports previously rejected as unreliable, presented them as certainties and then used these "facts" to make their case.

Nothing exemplifies this recklessness better than the story of lead 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta. On December 9, 2001, Cheney said it was "pretty well confirmed" that Atta had met the head of Iraqi intelligence in Prague in April 2001. In fact, the IC regarded that story, which was based on the uncorroborated statement of a salesman who had seen Atta's photo in the newspaper, as glaringly unreliable. Yet Bush officials used it to "prove" a link between Iraq and 9/11, long after the story had been definitively disproved.

But by August 2002, despite the Administration's efforts, public and Congressional support for the war was waning. So Chief of Staff Andrew Card organized the White House Iraq Group, of which Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove was a member, to market the war.

The Conspiracy Is Under Way

The PR campaign intensified Sunday, September 8. On that day the New York Times quoted anonymous "officials" who said Iraq sought to buy aluminum tubes suitable for centrifuges used in uranium enrichment. The same morning, in a choreographed performance worthy of Riverdance, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Gen. Richard Myers said on separate talk shows that the aluminum tubes, suitable only for centrifuges, proved Iraq's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

If, as Jonathan Schell put it, the allegation that Iraq tried to purchase uranium from Niger is "one of the most rebutted claims in history," the tubes story is a close second. The CIA and the Energy Department had been debating the issue since 2001. And the Energy Department's clear opinion was that the tubes were not suited for use in centrifuges; they were probably intended for military rockets. Given the lengthy debate and the importance of the tubes, it's impossible to believe that the Bush team was unaware of the nuclear experts' position. So when Bush officials said that the tubes were "only really suited" for centrifuge programs, they were committing fraud, either by lying outright or by making recklessly false statements.

When in September 2002 Bush began seeking Congressional authorization to use force, based on assertions that were unsupported by the National Intelligence Estimate, Democratic senators demanded that a new NIE be assembled. Astonishingly, though most NIEs require six months' preparation, the October NIE took two weeks. This haste resulted from Bush's insistence that Iraq presented an urgent threat, which was, after all, what the NIE was designed to assess. In other words, even the imposition of an artificially foreshortened time limit was fraudulent.

Also, the CIA was obviously aware of the Administration's dissatisfaction with the December 2001 NIE. So with little new intelligence, it now maintained that "most agencies" believed Baghdad had begun reconstituting its nuclear weapons programs in 1998. It also skewed underlying details in the NIE to exaggerate the threat.

The October NIE was poorly prepared--and flawed. But it was flawed in favor of the Administration, which took that skewed assessment and misrepresented it further in the only documents that were available to the public. The ninety-page classified NIE was delivered to Congress at 10 pm on October 1, the night before Senate hearings were to begin. But members could look at it only under tight security on-site. They could not take a copy with them for review. They could, however, remove for review a simultaneously released white paper, a glitzy twenty-five-page brochure that purported to be the unclassified summary of the NIE. This document, which was released to the public, became the talking points for war. And it was completely misleading. It mentioned no dissents; it removed qualifiers and even added language to distort the severity of the threat. Several senators requested declassification of the full-length version so they could reveal to the public those dissents and qualifiers and unsubstantiated additions, but their request was denied. Consequently, they could not use many of the specifics from the October NIE to explain their opposition to war without revealing classified information.

The aluminum tubes issue is illustrative. The classified October NIE included the State and Energy departments' dissents about the intended use of the tubes. Yet the declassified white paper mentioned no disagreement. So Bush in his October 7 speech and his 2003 State of the Union address, and Powell speaking to the United Nations February 5, 2003, could claim as "fact" that Iraq was buying aluminum tubes suitable only for centrifuge programs, without fear of contradiction--at least by members of Congress.

Ironically, Bush's key defense against charges of intentional misrepresentation actually incriminates him further. As Bob Woodward reported in his book Plan of Attack, Tenet said that the case for Iraq's possession of nuclear weapons was a "slam dunk" in response to Bush's question, "This is the best we've got?" Obviously, then, Bush himself thought the evidence was weak. But he did not investigate further or correct past misstatements. Instead, knowing that his claims were unsupported, he continued to assert that Iraq posed an urgent threat and was aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons. That is fraud.

It can hardly be disputed, finally, that the Bush Administration's intentional misrepresentations were designed to interfere with the lawful governmental function of Congress. They presented a complex deceit about Iraq to both the public and to Congress in order to manipulate Congress into authorizing foreign action. Legally, it doesn't matter whether anyone was deceived, although many were. The focus is on the perpetrators' state of mind, not that of those they intentionally set about to mislead.

The evidence shows, then, that from early 2002 to at least March 2003, the President and his aides conspired to defraud the United States by intentionally misrepresenting intelligence about Iraq to persuade Congress to authorize force, thereby interfering with Congress's lawful functions of overseeing foreign affairs and making appropriations, all of which violates Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

To what standards should we hold our government officials? Certainly standards as high as those Bush articulated for corporate officials. Higher, one would think. The President and Vice President and their appointees take an oath to defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States. If they fail to leave their campaign tactics and deceits behind--if they use the Oval Office to trick the public and Congress into supporting a war--we must hold them accountable. It's not a question of politics. It's a question of law.

http://www.thenation.com/docprint.mhtml?i=20051114&s=delavega

Wilson's letter to the Senate Commitee on Intel

Joseph C. Wilson, IV

July 15, 2004

The Honorable Pat Roberts
Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

The Honorable Jay Rockefeller
Vice Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Dear Senator Roberts and Senator Rockefeller,

I read with great surprise and consternation the Niger portion of Senators Roberts, Bond and Hatch "additional comments to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee's Report on the U.S.  Intelligence Community's Prewar Assessment on Iraq.  I am taking this opportunity to clarify some of the issues raised in these comments.

First conclusion: "The plan to send the former ambassador to Niger was suggested by the former ambassador's wife, a CIA employee."  

That is not true.  The conclusion is apparently based on one anodyne quote from a memo Valerie Plame, my wife sent to her superiors that says "my husband has good relations with the PM (prime minister) and the former Minister of Mines, (not to mention lots of French contacts) both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity."  There is no suggestion or recommendation in that statement that I be sent on the trip.  Indeed it is little more than a recitation of my contacts and bona fides.   The conclusion is reinforced by comments in the body of the report that a CPD reports officer stated the "the former ambassador's wife `offered up his name'" (page 39) and a State Department Intelligence and Research officer that the "meeting was `apparently convened by [the former ambassador's] wife who had the idea to dispatch him to use his contacts to sort out the Iraq-Niger uranium issue."  

In fact, Valerie was not in the meeting at which the subject of my trip was raised.  Neither was the CPD Reports officer.  After having escorted me into the room, she departed the meeting to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest.  It was at that meeting where the question of my traveling to Niger was broached with me for the first time and came only after a thorough discussion of what the participants did and did not know about the subject.  My bona fides justifying the invitation to the meeting were the trip I had previously taken to Niger to look at other uranium related questions as well as 20 years living and working in Africa, and personal contacts throughout the Niger government.    Neither the CPD reports officer nor the State analyst were in the chain of command to know who, or how, the decision was made.  The interpretations attributed to them are not the full story.  In fact, it is my understanding that the Reports Officer has a different conclusion about Valerie's role than the one offered in the "additional comments".  I urge the committee to reinterview the officer and publicly publish his statement.  

It is unfortunate that the report failed to include the CIA's position on this matter.  If the staff had done so it would undoubtedly have been given the same evidence as provided to Newsday reporters Tim Phelps and Knut Royce in July, 2003.  They reported on July 22 that:

"A senior intelligence officer confirmed that Plame was a Directorate of Operations undercover officer who worked `alongside' the operations officers who asked her husband to travel to Niger.
"But he said she did not recommend her husband to undertake the Niger assignment.  `They (the officers who did ask Wilson to check the uranium story) were aware of who she was married to, which is not surprising,' he said.  `There are people elsewhere in government who are trying to make her look like she was the one who was cooking this up, for some reason,' he said.  `I can't figure out what it could be.'
"We paid his (Wilson's) airfare.  But to go to Niger is not exactly a benefit.  Most people you'd have to pay big bucks to go there,' the senior intelligence official said.  Wilson said. he was reimbursed only for expenses."  (Newsday article Columnist blows CIA Agent's cover, dated July 22, 2003).

In fact, on July 13 of this year, David Ensor, the CNN correspondent, did call the CIA for a statement of its position and reported that a senior CIA official confirmed my account that Valerie did not propose me for the trip:

"'She did not propose me', he [Wilson] said--others at the CIA did so. A senior CIA official said that is his understanding too.'"

Second conclusion: "Rather than speaking publicly about his actual experiences during his inquiry of the Niger issue, the former ambassador seems to have included information he learned from press accounts and from his beliefs about how the Intelligence Community would have or should have handled the information he provided."

This conclusion states that I told the committee staff that I "may have become confused about my own recollection after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that the names and dates on the documents were not correct."  At the time that I was asked that question, I was not afforded the opportunity to review the articles to which the staff was referring.  I have now done so.  

On March 7, 2003 the Director General of the IAEA reported to the United Nations Security Council that the documents that had been given to him were "not authentic".  His deputy, Jacques Baute, was even more direct, pointing out that the forgeries were so obvious that a quick Google search would have exposed their flaws.   A State Department spokesman was quoted the next day as saying about the forgeries "We fell for it." From that time on the details surrounding the documents became public knowledge and were widely reported.  I was not the source of information regarding the forensic analysis of the documents in question; the IAEA was.

The first time I spoke publicly about the Niger issue was in response to the State Department's disclaimer.  On CNN a few days later, in response to a question, I replied that I believed the US government knew more about the issue than the State Department spokesman had let on and that he had misspoken.  I did not speak of my trip.

My first public statement was in my article of July 6 published in the New York Times, written only after it became apparent that the administration was not going to deal with the Niger question unless it was forced to.  I wrote the article because I believed then, and I believe now, that it was important to correct the record on the statement in the President's State of the Union address which lent credence to the charge that Iraq was actively reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.  I believed that the record should reflect the facts as the US government had known them for over a year.  The contents of my article do not appear in the body of the report and is not quoted in the "additional comments."  In that article, I state clearly that "As for the actual memorandum, I never saw it.  But news accounts have pointed out that the documents had glaring errors - they were signed, for example, by officials who were no longer in government - and were probably forged.  (And then there's the fact that Niger formally denied the charges.)"

The first time I actually saw what were represented as the documents was when Andrea Mitchell, the NBC correspondent handed them to me in an interview on July 21.  I was not wearing my glasses and could not read them.  I have to this day not read them.  I would have absolutely no reason to claim to have done so.  My mission was to look into whether such a transaction took place or could take place.  It had not and could not.  By definition that makes the documents bogus.  

The text of the "additional comments" also asserts that "during Mr. Wilson's media blitz, he appeared on more than thirty television shows including entertainment venues. Time and again, Joe Wilson told anyone who would listen that the President had lied to the American people, that the Vice President had lied, and that he had "debunked" the claim that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa."  

My article in the New York Times makes clear that I attributed to myself "a small role in the effort to verify information about Africa's suspected link to Iraq's non-conventional weapons programs."  After it became public that there were then Ambassador to Niger, Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick's report and the report from a four star Marine Corps General, Carleton Fulford in the files of the U. S. government, I went to great lengths to point out that mine was but one of three reports on the subject.  I never claimed to have "debunked" the allegation that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa. I claimed only that the transaction described in the documents that turned out to be forgeries could not have and did not occur.  I did not speak out on the subject until several months after it became evident that what underpinned the assertion in the State of the Union address were those documents, reports of which had sparked Vice President Cheney's original question that led to my trip.   The White House must have agreed.  The day after my article appeared in the Times a spokesman for the President told the Washington Post that "the sixteen words did not rise to the level of inclusion in the State of the Union."

I have been very careful to say that while I believe that the use of the sixteen words in the State of the Union address was a deliberate attempt to deceive the Congress of the United States, I do not know what role the President may have had other than he has accepted responsibility for the words he spoke.  I have also said on many occasions that I believe the President has proven to be far more protective of his senior staff than they have been to him.  

The "additional comments" also assert: "The Committee found that, for most analysts the former ambassador's report lent more credibility, not less, to the reported Niger-Iraq uranium deal."   In fact, the body of the Senate report suggests the exact opposite:

*  In August, 2002, a CIA NESA report on Iraq's weapons of Mass Destruction capabilities did not include the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium information. (pg. 48)

  •  In September, 2002, during coordination of a speech with an NSC staff member, the CIA analyst suggested the reference to Iraqi attempts to acquire uranium from Africa be removed.  The CIA analyst said the NSC staff member said that would leave the British "flapping in the wind." (pg. 50)

  •  The uranium text was included in the body of the NIE but not in the key judgments.  When someone suggested that the uranium information be included as another sign of reconstitution, the INR Iraq nuclear analyst spoke up and said the he did not agree with the uranium reporting and that INR would be including text indicating their disagreement in their footnote on nuclear reconstitution.  The NIO said he did not recall anyone really supporting including the uranium issue as part of the judgment that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program, so he suggested that the uranium information did not need to be part of the key judgments.  He told Committee staff he suggested that "We'll leave it in the paper for completeness.  Nobody can say we didn't connect the dots. But we don't have to put that dot in the key judgments." (pg. 53)

  •  On October 2, 2002, the Deputy DCI testified before the SSCI.  Senator Jon Kyl asked the Deputy DCI whether he had read the British White Paper and whether he disagreed with anything in the report.  The Deputy DCI testified that "the one thing where I think they stretched a little bit beyond where we would stretch is on the points about where Iraq was seeking uranium from various African locations. (pg.54)

  •  On October 4, 2002 the NIO for Strategic and Nuclear Programs testified that "there is some information on attempts ....there's a question about those attempts because of the control of the material in those countries...For us it's more the concern that they (Iraq) have uranium in country now.  (pg. 54)

  •  On October 5, 2002, the ADDI said an Iraq nuclear analyst - he could not remember who - raised concerns about the sourcing and some of the facts of the Niger reporting, specifically that the control of the mines in Niger would have made it very difficult to get yellowcake to Iraq.  (pg. 55)

  •  Based on the analyst's comments, the ADDI faxed a memo to the Deputy National Security Advisor that said, "remove the sentence because the amount is in dispute and it is debatable whether it can be acquired from this source.  We told Congress that the Brits have exaggerated this issue.  Finally, the Iraqis already have 550 metric tons of uranium oxide in their inventory. (pg. 56)

  •  On October 6, 2002, the DCI called the Deputy National Security Advisor directly to outline the CIA's concerns.  The DCI testified to the SSCI on July 16, 2003, that he told the Deputy National Security Advisor that the "President should not be a fact witness on this issue," because his analysts had told him the "reporting was weak." (pg. 56)

  •  On October 6, 2002, the CIA sent a second fax to the White House which said, "more on why we recommend removing the sentence about procuring uranium oxide from Africa: Three points 1) the evidence is weak. One of the two mines cited by the source as the location of the uranium oxide is flooded.  The other mine cited by the source is under the control of the French authorities. 2) the procurement is not particularly significant to Iraq's nuclear ambitions because the Iraqis already have a large stock of uranium oxide in their inventory.  And 3) we have shared points one and two with Congress, telling them that the Africa story is overblown and telling them this in one of the two issues where we differed with the British." (Pg 56)

  •  On March 8, 2003, the intelligence report on my trip was disseminated within the U.S. Government according the Senate report (pg. 43).  Further, the Senate report states that "in early March, the Vice President asked his morning briefer for an update on the Niger uranium issue."  That update from the CIA "also noted that the CIA would be debriefing a source who may have information related to the alleged sale on March 5."  The report then states the "DO officials also said they alerted WINPAC analysts when the report was being disseminated because they knew the high priority of the issue."  The report notes that the CIA briefer did not brief the Vice President on the report. (Pg. 46)

    It is clear from the body of the Senate report that the Intelligence Community, including the DCI himself, made several attempts to ensure that the President not become a "fact witness" on an allegation that was so weak.  A thorough reading of the report substantiates the claim made in my opinion piece in the New York Times and in subsequent interviews I have given on the subject.  The sixteen words should never have been in the State of the Union address as the White House now acknowledges.  

    I undertook this mission at the request of my government in response to a legitimate concern that Saddam Hussein was attempting to reconstitute his nuclear weapons program.  This was a national security issue that has concerned me since I was the Deputy Chief of Mission in the U.S. Embassy in Iraq before and during the first Gulf War.  

    At the time of my trip I was in private business and had not offered my views publicly on the policy we should adopt towards Iraq.  Indeed, throughout the debate in the runup to the war, I took the position that the U.S. be firm with Saddam Hussein on the question of weapons of mass destruction programs including backing tough diplomacy with the credible threat of force.  In that debate I never mentioned my trip to Niger.  I did not share the details of my trip until May, 2003, after the war was over, and then only when it became clear that the administration was not going to address the issue of the State of the Union statement.  

    It is essential that the errors and distortions in the additional comments be corrected for the public record.  Nothing could be more important for the American people than to have an accurate picture of the events that led to the decision to bring the United States into war in Iraq.  The Senate Intelligence Committee has an obligation to present to the American people the factual basis of that process.  I hope that this letter is helpful in that effort.  I look forward to your further "additional comments."

    Sincerely,

    Joseph C. Wilson, IV
    Washington, D.C

    http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2005/10/30/18754/437